Trends of food packaging in 2023

February 17, 2023

     As the saying goes, "don't judge a book by its cover", but in reality, packaging is often the most intuitive factor that affects consumers' purchase of food. For food,good packaging can not only ensure the freshness and hygiene of the food, prolong the shelf life and reduce food waste, but also fully demonstrate the brand effect of the food manufacturer.

     The food packaging industry has come a long way in the past few years. With the new technologies and materials, the function of food packaging is not limited to the traditional level of keeping food fresh and extending the shelf life of food, but also expands to provide information about food and enhance consumer experience.

     So, what trends in the food packaging industry in 2023 will catch consumers' attention and influence their purchasing decisions?

I. The constant topic: food safety

Food safety issues have always been focused. In addition to paying attention to the quality and safety of the food,consumers also pay attention to the safety  of packaging. In addition, as consumers pay more and more attention to the ingredients used in food and the production process of food, their thirst for knowledge about the whole process of food from production to table is also becoming stronger.

    1. Fresh-keeping packaging

     As food often needs to go through long-distance transportation with a long time before it can be sent from the place of origin to the supermarket shelf, ensuring the freshness and hygiene of food is the most basic requirement for safe packaging. With the gradual deepening of packaging industrialization, the combination of materials with different characteristics provides a more ideal packaging option for food.

For example, in modified atmosphere packaging, replacing oxygen with inert gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide can slow down the growth of bacteria without using any additives. At the same time, the packaging materials must have good gas barrier properties, otherwise the protective gas will be lost very quickly.

    2. Smart packaging

     According to the World Health Organization, about 600 million people suffer from food poisoning every year, and 420,000 of them die. At the same time, a large amount of clean food is discarded and wasted due to suspected contamination, and tracking and determining the source and safety of food is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task.

However, as some high-tech and new technologies are used in the food packaging industry, the phenomenon of food poisoning and food waste has been alleviated. First, the innovative application of block-chain technology began to solve the traceability problem.

     However, as some high-tech and new technologies are used in the food packaging industry, the phenomenon of food poisoning and food waste has been alleviated. First, the innovative application of block-chain technology began to solve the traceability problem.

II. What else is sustainable?

Drastic changes in climate are threatening the planet's ecological environment, forcing humans to find more sustainable diets and lifestyles.

Although prepackaged food provides safe, convenient, and shelf-stable solutions for modern society, most food packaging is disposable, and the waste that is discarded after use will cause a lot of environmental pollution. An estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since around 1950 and takes around 500 years to decompose.

Therefore, in 2023 when sustainability is still an important issue, how food manufacturers choose sustainable packaging is the top priority of this green agenda.

    1. Edible packaging

     Edible coatings, one of the most promising packaging alternatives, are an emerging green technology commonly used to regulate gas exchange, moisture transfer, and oxidation processes in various products. One of the most significant advantages of using edible films and coatings is that various active chemicals can be contained in polymer matrices and administered with food, thereby improving food safety as well as nutritional and sensory properties.

In addition to replacing manual packaging, this product has many benefits. When the polymer is present in an edible material, it has several advantages such as light weight and good tensile properties. Natural biopolymers have multiple advantages in life sciences as they can be obtained from marine organisms, agriculture or animals, and are biocompatible and biodegradable.

     According to Globe Newswire, by 2028, the global market for edible films and coatings will reach USD 4.2 billion, with a CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period.

    2. Plantable packaging

    Usually,after the food is eaten, the packaging of the product will be discarded directly, which will bring many negative impacts on the global environment, so corresponding solutions are urgently needed to deal with this problem.

    Packaging made from biodegradable or compostable materials can reduce energy use and harm to the environment, and may even bring new life.

    As a type of sustainable packaging, plantable packaging is made by embedding seeds in biodegradable materials, which can be buried in the soil after use. The seeds in the packaging will eventually grow into beautiful plants, and potential waste will be eliminated.

    3. Flexible packaging

    Flexible packaging, a way of packaging products by using non-rigid materials, is a relatively new approach in the packaging market and is gaining popularity due to its high efficiency and cost-effective nature.

    Flexible packaging, by using a variety of flexible materials including foil, plastic and paper to create product containers such as bags, is especially useful in industries that require multifunctional packaging, such as the food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical industries.

    In addition, flexible packaging consumes less water and energy to produce, and it can also be customized. Flexible packaging is also reusable, as it usually has a zip lock and seal, and instead of discarding the packaging after using the product inside, consumers can reuse it for storing dry goods at home.

    According to different forms of classification such as usage scenarios, specifications, and forms, the common types of flexible packaging are as follows:

    Sample Bags: Heat-sealed packets consisting of film and/or foil, which are usually pre-formed for easy filling and sealing inside.

    Printed bags: On which product and brand information is printed for marketing purposes.

    Printed roll stock: Unformed bag materials with product information pre-printed on it, these rolls are sent to OEMs for forming, filling and sealing.

    Stock Bags: Stock bags are simple blank formed bags or pouches. These can be used as blank pouches/pouches and can be labeled to promote the brand.

    In a word, Flexible packaging is still the main force of all packaging in 2023. Of course, the trend of flexible packaging in 2023 will be biased towards the environmental protection of materials, that is to say, more attention should be paid to degradable materials.

III. AR technology subverts the new consumption experience

    With the increasing popularity of smartphones, the food industry is using modern technology to connect this customer segment with packaging, creating an augmented reality experience for its consumers through AR (Augmented Reality) packaging.

    Through AR packaging, consumers can use their mobile phones to connect to information such as games, images, videos, websites, etc., so as to make a better purchase decision. Consumers today prefer packaging solutions that are smart, active, interactive, connected, user-friendly and environmentally friendly.

    AR tags help consumers browse the information provided by brands by scanning images/labels provided on product packaging. Some food brands use AR tags to create personalized ip and games for consumers and interact with consumers.

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